Cosby Charges Demonstrate Reality of Sexual Assault
Use of alcohol and drugs, trusted status, and assumption that victims would not be believed fueled decades of abuse.
The December 30, 2015 announcement that criminal charges have been filed against Bill Cosby highlight the realities of sexual assault for many victims. Cosby was considered a trusted individual and mentor by many of his victims. Cosby used drugs and alcohol to perpetrate his acts. Cosby assumed that his status and persona would result in victims not being believed if they did report his assaults.
One in five women will experience rape and nearly half of all women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. Four out of five victims will know their assailant. Sexual assault is broadly defined as engaging or attempting to engage in unwanted sexual activity. There are many forms of sexual assault including: rape, sodomy, oral copulation, rape by a foreign object, and sexual battery. Sexual assault, sexual battery and rape occur when the individual does not give consent and/or willingly participates. In California, one cannot consent to sex when incapacitated due to drugs, alcohol or the presence of a disability. In California, the legal age of consent is 18 years old.
Alcohol is the most frequently used substance in drug facilitated sexual assaults. Other common substances used in drug facilitated sexual assaults include; GHB, ketamine, Rohypnol, MDMA (Ecstasy), and prescription medication. The majority of these substances are colorless, odorless and tasteless. Historically, drugs such as Quaaludes were used to facilitate sexual assault based on ease of access and debilitating effects. Many drug facilitated assaults are not reported because survivors feel a sense of embarrassment, guilt or perceived responsibility because they lack specific recall of the assault.
An estimated 65% of sexual assaults are never reported to law enforcement. The most common reasons cited for not reporting include fear of not being believed and sense of embarrassment or responsibility. As a result, victims struggle to heal from the trauma experienced and may delay seeking support and counseling for years.
Victims of sexual assault in Sacramento County have access to 24/7 crisis intervention through WEAVE, the county’s sole Rape Crisis Center. Services include 24/7 Sexual Assault Response Team, therapeutic counseling, advocacy and accompaniment, and legal advocacy and assistance. All services are provided at no charge to the victim or their family.